Montgomery County files legal defense of same-sex marriages licenses

    Montgomery County has submitted its full defense to a complaint by the Pennsylvania Department of Health over the county’s issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

    The department, which oversees vital statistics, says the county’s Register of Wills Bruce Hanes cannot ignore a state law defining marriage as between a man and a woman.

    The county’s brief includes both dry, legal arguments and quotes from a section of the Pennsylvania Constitution, “The Inherent Rights of Mankind.”

    Montgomery County’s attorney has asked that the case go straight to the Commonwealth’s highest court. Attorney Raymond McGarry also insists that the court address whether the state law barring gay marriage is unconstitutional — by making that issue part of the county’s official defense.

    Hanes has continued to issue marriage licenses since the state filed its complaint with the court. He has now provided more than 100 licenses to gay and lesbian couples.

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